Spotlight on The Women’s Center

Bekah and Darrius spotlight the Women’s Center (and interviewed Alex Hollidfild):

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The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center is a campus resource centered that deals with issues related to gender, health relationships, pregnancies, body image, eating disorders, disorder eating, women leadership, sexual help. The picture below shows the outside of the house.

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Masculinity In a Nutshell…Are Times Changing?

After spending a quarter reading many articles and watching many documentaries, I thought it would be interesting to go back and look at the very first article we read titled “Theoretical Perspectives” by Steven Seidman. Specifically looking at the section titled “Feminism: the gender of sexuality”, the ideas of feminists such as Nancy Chodorow, Adrienne Rich, and Catherine MacKinnon and the relationships between males and females and how they became this way. The ideas of Nancy Chodorow specifically look at the origins of how males and females have gotten to be the way they are today. In The Reproduction of Mothering by Chodorow, she describes that for girls and boys, the mother is often the most loving between the two parents. There is an “extended and intense intimacy between mothers and daughters [resulting] in girls developing a syche that is relationship-oriented. Accordingly, girls tend to connect sex with intimacy and as a means of caring” (Seidman 6). In contrast, boys tend to break away from their mothers at a much earlier age, and come to spend much more time with their “achievement-oriented” (Seidman 7) fathers, hence them becoming more oriented with more characteristics that are described as “masculine”. Chodorow states, “boys’ sexuality tends to be more performance- and body-oriented” (Seidman 7). For this reason, a typical boy activity as a child is going out and playing football with his father, while girls stay inside and play with dolls, a much more “caring” activity than the competition of sports. Looking later in life, she states that, “boys can be intimate, but they will likely express sexual love in terms of the giving and receiving of erotic pleasure” (Seidman 7). For this reason, many females are attracted to boys on a much more emotional level, where boys are characterized to only thinking about sex.

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Sex and Education (Part 2)

How does a person’s sex or gender identity affect the education they receive?

This topic combines Tolman’s article, “Adolescent girls’ sexuality”, and Pascoe’s article, “Guys are just homophobic”.  Through this combination, we can see the interplay between societal pressures and expectations for both girls and guys.  Also, how this interplay is perceived and responded to by adults.

The main takeaways from Tolman’s article are the ideas of “good”/”bad” girls and being desired as opposed to desiring.  While the main takeaway from Pascoe’s article is guys need to avoid being perceived as homophobic.

To clarify, girls are expected to incite desire and boys are expected to desire them.  To create this desire, girls are supposed to dress and act provocatively, but not too much.They cannot actually like this or gain anything from it.  It must be simply to provide boys an object.  Any deviation will result in a girl being labeled “bad”, and she cannot easily reclaim her “good” label.  Boys have also experience the pressure to perform.  Failure to express desire or objectify a girl can result in the label of being “gay”.

Society says that it is a biological truth that guys cannot control their sexual urges and naturally desire and objectify every girl they see.  Given the responsibility of girls to create this environment, it is the girls who also hold the responsibility for keeping guys in check.  Girls are told that a guy will not be able to learn if cleavage, midriff, shoulders, or thighs are shown.  Guys cannot be held responsible for their educational experience.  How can a guy possibly concentrate on his schoolwork with an attractive female wearing a low-cut top sitting beside him?  Of course, he is going to openly stare and focus all of his attention on her breasts until she is out of sight.

Additionally, guys cannot be held accountable for what comes out of their mouth.  It is simply a part of growing up that boys regularly demean girls and sexually harass them.  To not do this, a boy is presumed gay.  Heaven forbid, a boy actually respects women.  At the same time, the beratement girls face creates a very uncomfortable environment, to say the least.  And yet, this topic is hardly ever discussed.  Boys have a responsibility to help create a respectful learning environment. How can a girl possibly concentrate on her schoolwork with a boy sitting behind her commenting on how nice her breasts are, how much she would love to experience his huge penis, and how he could please her in so many ways (all without her approval or encouragement)?

Taking a different track, boys and girls are told what they can and cannot do in school-related activities.  This is seen in ideas of how children are expected to perform in each subject, what positions they are to hold, what organizations they take part in, and what sports they play.

Currently, adults perpetuate these ideas by accepting, enforcing, and encouraging them.  We cannot expect children to step outside of these scripts without encouragement.  To change these strict gender roles, we have to encourage children to step outside of them.  We have to counter the unjust perceptions with respectful discourses.  Children need to be taught what it means to respect another person.  Some adults need to be taught this as well.  How can we effectively change the school environment to one of respect?  There is the common example of single-sex schools.  However, there are many drawbacks to these and it would be just as unfair, if not more, to take away the possibility of co-ed schools.  Segregation is not the answer.  We have been there and done that.  Separate and unequal, we all know which side of the binary would get the short end of the stick.

Then there are the “other” identities, those who do not fit in our binary system.  What kind of responsibilities do they have?  What responsibilities do others have to them?  How do we combat all of these misconceptions?